i keep putting off talking about this topic because of feels and because i’m lazy stuff, but it’s 1:30am on a work night, i’ve just responded to an email from someone asking me about this topic and i’m too tired to censor myself or to overthink what people may think of my opinion. what a perfect opportunity to share my thoughts on Tumblr! let’s cut and paste.
Many people argue (and I agree) that POC in film/media are treated differently than white people, and one way is in the portrayal of asexuality. Specifically, there’s an argument that black characters that are asexual tend to be portrayed by the offensive “mammy” stereotype and therefore have even less accurate representation than white aces. Thoughts on this? Personally, I’m not sure if the “mammy” stereotype if supposed to be asexual—I just see it as desexualized, which to me is a different thing. Do you know of any good portrayal of a non-white ace?
i’m not sure where this argument comes from as i’m unaware of even a single black, asexual (canon or otherwise) character in the media? i’m really curious about what character(s) this argument is referring to.
also, i personally have never considered the “mammy” stereotype to have anything to do with sexuality, be it asexuality or desexualization…. i’ve always thought of it as an example of how white society paints black women (specifically those who fit the stereotype) as undesirable sexually, but thinking about that now i guess that is a form of desexualization that has nothing to do with the person in question’s actual sexuality.
to get back to your question, i feel like society treats / portrays / stereotypes all POC differently in general, so how society portrays black (and other) POC aces is but an extension of that.
in recent times, far more common than the “mammy” stereotype is the exotification and hypersexualization of black bodies in the media. black characters and real life black people alike are portrayed as inherently sexual, which in turn makes the very idea of a black character or real life black person being asexual all the more inconceivable to many people. to the point that when a black ace comes out they are commonly met with rejection of their orientation for reasons that basically boil down to “but you can’t be asexual, you’re black!” as if that has anything to do with anything. even after a black asexual gets over the hurdles of explaining what asexuality is and having the person recognize that asexuality is an actual sexual orientation, they still face an additional uphill battle purely because of their race and the racial stereotypes perpetuated by the media.
the only positive portrayal of a non-white ace that i’m familiar with is Anwar of Shades of A.
How has your race and non-binary identities intersected with your experience in the ace community and with representation?
the short answer is that the complex intersection of my various identities has resulted in me feeling rather alienated within the ace community at times and media representation that includes all of those intersections is virtually nonexistent in so far as i’m aware.
i have found community with other non-binary people. i have found community with other asexual people. i have found community with black non-binary people and i have found yet another community with black asexual people. however, i have yet to find a community of people who are black, non-binary AND ace and at this point in time it almost feels like even hoping for such would be too much to ask.
regardless of what community i’m interacting with at the time, it sometimes feels like the part of my identity that isn’t shared by the other people in the community gets overlooked or forgotten. sometimes it’s not even that others have overlooked it or forgotten it, but that i feel like i cannot even bring it up or voice when my experiences are different from the rest due to that identity because people wouldn’t understand it and/or i don’t feel like having to explain to those who have no experience with it.
the complexity of the intersections of my identity is a pain in the ass, to be frank, and that goes beyond just gender, sexuality and race.